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October 7, 2015

Pilot Watch: 'The Defenders'

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 2nd 2010 11:04AM
Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell in 'The Defenders' on CBSFrom now through the end of July, we're going to be taking a quick look at the fall and mid-season pilots that the networks sent to critics after their upfront presentations.

Keep in mind that in each case, our opinions are based on a pilot that could be completely recast and reworked between now and the fall.

Show: 'The Defenders'
Network: CBS
Timeslot: Wednesdays, 10PM ET

The lowdown:
Nick Morelli (Jim Belushi) and Pete Kaczmarek (Jerry O'Connell) are attorneys in Las Vegas who are not only brash -- they just unveiled a huge billboard near the Strip -- but are inclined to take chances with their clients. If they need to skirt contempt in order to get a judge to inadvertently help them out, they will. If it takes sleeping with the prosecutor to get a kid's charges dismissed, they will (at least Nick will). As they get more notoriety, their client list becomes more eclectic. At the same time, Nick is separated from his wife, Pete is living at the Planet Hollywood hotel and bedding flight attendants, and they're both trying to break in a new associate (Jurnee Smollett) who has to constantly fight against her reputation as a former stripper.

What we're saying
: Any resemblance between this series and the same-named E.G. Marshall / Robert Reed series from the early Sixties is purely coincidental. This is a good vehicle for both O'Connell -- who has had zero luck in the series department as of late -- and Belushi, who gets to show some good dramatic acting skills that have been hidden since well before 'According to Jim' hit the air. They both bring the right tone to their characters, who have a degree of smarmy earnestness you only find in shows taking place in Vegas.

They also bring a comedic touch that will hopefully allow the writers to explore Morelli's and Kaczmarek's lives a little more and keep the courtroom scenes to only what's necessary. The more we see of the two of them operating in the weirdness and glitz of Vegas and the less we see of them pontificating to a jury -- the case in the pilot is a pretty grim murder case -- the more 'The Defenders' will separate itself from the other lawyer-centric dramas on TV. But if a show like this can survive and thrive anywhere, it's at CBS.

Here's a preview:

Tell us what you think. Does O'Connell finally have a successful show?

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Just because it has the same name, so what! I like both actors...we'll give it a go.
We don't watch reality shows {with the exception of the Deadliest Catch}.
Good Luck Jim & Jerry!

September 08 2010 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't even give it 4 weeks. This is a complete slap in the face to the original. CBS is failing miserably on this one.

September 04 2010 at 11:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ever since NBC unceremoniously cancelled the post-Quincy, pre-Bones show "Crossing Jordan" - Jerry hasn't had much good work; but he still has Rebecca to go home to.

IDK - just too many "buddy" shows on lately; so might just be a male-type 'Rizzoli & Isles' ripoff from TNT!

August 20 2010 at 5:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No thanks. I give it 4 weeks before CBS cancels it.

July 05 2010 at 11:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John F.C. Taylor

Just as well it doesn't. If they tried to do a remake of the old show, I'd expect this to fall flat.

July 05 2010 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know he isn't popular on TV squad but I think Belushi does a good job of being an everyman

July 05 2010 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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